Like a Butterfly – A Spiritual Poem about Truth, Life, and Change

Butterfly by Ozont, on Flickr
True friends are hard to come by. They are there for you when no one else understands. They always seem to have the right words to offer at just the right time. I have been blessed with a friend like this in my own life. His name is Aaron Sellars. I have known Aaron for almost 20 years now (that’s more than half of my life), and although this post isn’t about him, or about our extraordinary relationship over the years, I would feel remiss if I didn’t at least say this much before getting to the heart of this post.

Aaron is a true artist, a deeply moving soul, and a naturally gifted poet with subtle and powerful insight. And being that it is his birthday in a few days, I thought I would give him an early birthday present by sharing a few of my thoughts on one of his poems entitled “Like a Butterfly” (which, incidentally, is also a song that he and I recorded a few years ago, still unfinished and unreleased). I could literally write an entire book just about this poem, especially reflecting on the practical applications for life that can be drawn from it. But we will leave that for another day.

Here is the complete poem, after which I will comment on it stanza by stanza:

Like a Butterfly

A poem by Aaron Sellars

The capital of life
Is in every breath
So take advantage
Before none is left

Don’t judge the truth
By what people do
First find the truth
And do what’s right for you

Lift your soul up high
From the fakeness on the ground
Search deep inside
And the Real will be found

Like a Butterfly
I want to Change!
Like a Butterfly
Fly out of Range!

You can’t see the sun
If you look it in the eye
You can’t live your life
If you never try

If you want to walk on water
You must take a step
But you won’t move a foot
With a faith that is inept

So if you want to move the mountains
You need a power not your own
You can move the mountains
When certainty is shown

Don’t you know the graveyard
Is the richest place on the earth?
Because of all the hopes and dreams
That lay beneath the dirt

Like a Butterfly
I want to Change!
Like a Butterfly
Fly out of Range!

So bless me like Muhammad
Help me like Moses!
Save me like Jesus
And all the Saints that know this!


Now Let’s Break It Down…

The capital of life
Is in every breath
So take advantage
Before none is left

We all know that life is short. It’s even somewhat cliché just to say that, but it’s absolutely true. Our true capital, the thing by which we enter into the transactions of this world—the financial, physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual—is without a doubt the very breaths that we have each been gifted with. Our breaths are indeed limited. Not a single one of us will breathe one extra breath during our time on this beautiful earth. And that’s why we should strive to live life in the moment, taking from each breath the fullness of experience and the richness of possibility.

How much longer are you going to wait to do what you know you need to do? When will you start living the dreams that you have been fantasizing about for so long? No one is going to swoop down and take care of things for you. You have to clench your destiny with the very mind, body, and soul that you have been granted (whatever your physical condition may be). So take advantage of this opportunity, before no more breaths are left.

Don’t judge the truth
By what people do
First find the truth
And do what’s right for you

There are two major issues here for me: separating “truth” from “people” and then doin’ whatcha gotta do (as we would say). It’s about authenticity, my friends. No one likes to be a hypocrite (for long, at least). Or maybe I should say, no one can live with themselves as a hypocrite for very long. Granted, some do seem to be pulling it off, but they are not truly happy. And if you’re not happy, then you’re not truly living.

To state it plainly… These souls are not being true to themselves. They are not living up to their full potential. They may indeed be crafting their own lives, but it is a life of self-deceit, insecurity, guardedness, and paranoia (in some cases). They are always worried about what the next Jane or Joe will say about them or what they think, all the while missing out on their true calling in life.

Just do your thing, I say. Don’t hold back because of petty considerations like “public opinion” or “cultural acceptability”. If it nurtures your soul, enlivens your life, gives you a sense of purpose, brings joy to the people of the world, and doesn’t harm anyone in the process, then go for it. What are you waiting for?

Lift your soul up high
From the fakeness on the ground
Search deep inside
And the Real will be found

Ahhh, these lines…

There is definitely a lot of fakeness and plasticity around these days (and no, I’m not talking about the incredible discoveries in neuroplasticity). All you have to do is turn on the TV for 5 minutes (or less!) and there it is. Nothing is what it seems these days. We don’t read books anymore. We can’t focus our attention on simple tasks without being distracted. Interpersonal relationships seem more and more shallow and terse. And our experience of nature is all but blotted out by the ever present screen (I know, you are looking at one right now. It’s okay though, after we’re done here you can take a nice walk. ;-))

Like a Butterfly
I want to Change!
Like a Butterfly
Fly out of Range!

This is the refrain of the poem (also called the “chorus” in song terminology). It’s appropriate that this be the part that it is oft-repeated, as it is literally the crux of the matter, and what so much of our lives revolves around: change. The desire to change is powerful, and change is inevitable, whether we like it or realize it or not. But the type of change that we should seek is one that is both positively transformative and movingly metamorphic – like the change of the caterpillar into a butterfly.

At this point, I would share a video of this transformation here, but some might get grossed out by the buggy “ugliness” of the transformation. But in that there is another story: change is not always pretty. Sometimes to reach the results that we are looking for, we have to go through that “ugly” stage. Here’s an image for right now (and if you’re up for it, check out some of the many videos on YouTube).

Caterpillar to butterfly

That right there is the ultimate metaphor for our lives. A constant state of blossoming, growth, and change. The question is though: where are your changes taking you, and are you in charge of the ship, or is someone else?

You can’t see the sun
If you look it in the eye
You can’t live your life
If you never try

You know the feeling: you have been looking all over the house for that darn thing that you misplaced for what seems like hours. And then, all of a sudden, there it is, right on the desk in front of you! Why didn’t you see it? How could you have missed it? It was right in front of your face, but yet you were blinded to it. And so it is with life—sometimes we miss the good parts of it simply because we are too busy missing the forest because of the trees.

Just try.. Life will surprise you. Make the change, take the risk, go outside your comfort zone. “Live a little,” is what they say. And there’s a reason that became a saying.

If you want to walk on water
You must take a step
But you won’t move a foot
With a faith that is inept

Under the Blue Sky by Dy Zach Photoworks

Ah, yes, walking on water, the famous miracle of New Testament lore. But it’s much more than just lore. It’s a striking and powerful metaphor. It’s a symbol. It points to limitless possibilities and hope. You will never know if you are able to do something unless and until you try. And you will never actually try until you make that first step. And when you take that first step, you have to have the requisite hope and faith that everything will turn out alright, regardless of the outcome.

But what happens if things don’t turn out the way you had planned? Well, that’s what life is all about: you try, you monitor your results, and then you adjust your approach (if need be). There’s nothing to be worried about, just take that step!

So if you want to move the mountains
You need a power not your own
You can move the mountains
When certainty is shown

It is said that the most noble thing sent down from the heavens to the earth is certainty. I can see why. When you are always second-guessing yourself, when you are plagued by doubt and insecurities, nothing gets done. “I can’t do that,” you tell yourself. Or you worry about what people will think or what they will say. You sell yourself short. But you should know that you are not alone.

There is a power in this universe that is far greater than yourself. It is a power that moves in your favor when you simply express your own inherent and miraculous power of certainty. You have what it takes, the universe has your back. Just put forth the effort and try. It especially helps when you find that special state of flow—the state in which time all but ceases. That is where the miracles happen. That is where you find your true self, your calling.

Don’t you know the graveyard
Is the richest place on the earth?
Because of all the hopes and dreams
That lay beneath the dirt

I remember the phone conversation between Aaron and I that sparked this line in the poem/song. I had just attended a lecture by the famous motivational speaker Les Brown. Now, I’m already a pretty excited and vibrant person (just ask Aaron), but I was literally in the zone after attending this lecture. Les mentioned something about graveyards and riches, and hopes and dreams, etc., and so I shared what I remembered of it with Aaron. And then wham! Sure enough, he comes right back with these poetically inspired lines above! Sometimes all it takes is just a little nudge in the right direction. Inspired souls know what to do next.

Like a Butterfly
I want to Change!
Like a Butterfly
Fly out of Range!

When performing the song version of this poem, or when reading the poem aloud, the aforementioned refrain (chorus) is repeated several times. But let us move on to the final stanza, before the grand ending…

So bless me like Muhammad
Help me like Moses!
Save me like Jesus
And all the Saints that know this!

These are the fathers of the three main monotheistic religions of the world. But these lines have a larger meaning for me. Never do you call out like this—with a sincere and unflinching passion—except that you receive an answer. The universe has a way to it. Whatever vibrations you send out, they are the very ones that you will receive. So rest assured, if you are a seeker, and you are resolute in that path, you will find your answer. It may not be on your time, or in the way that you had imagined, but it will be your answer, nonetheless.

Seek the path of “bless me” by being in a blessed state yourself. Discover the path of “help me” by coming to the aid of those in need. And relish in the results of “save me” by saving your thoughts from negativity.

The “Saints” here are those who have deep wisdom and piercing spiritual insight. They have cultivated this inner-vision over years of careful discipline and blissful inner-awakenings. Sometimes flashes of light and insight come to them, without prompting. Other times there are days of barrenness and disillusionment, so that they come to respect the worth of what they have been gifted with. There is no bliss greater than the bliss of the “saint.” (And I respectfully put that word in quotes because we all have different ways of defining what a saint is. Nevertheless, we all know one when we see one. Don’t live in a box though.)

Now it’s time for the chorus again, but let’s say it with passion and emotion this time. Tell yourself these words:

Like a Butterfly
I want to Change!
Like a Butterfly
Fly out of Range!

Sometimes hearing things once isn’t enough. We need time to let things sink in. For many of us, it is in one ear and out the other, for most of the day. You receive a text or a tweet from someone that has been bothering you, you read that harsh and critical email from a coworker or an ex-lover, you get nagged by one of your kids, and then you just kind of go into shut-down mode. The way out of this rut is to take things down a notch, for just for a little while. Slow down those brain waves, get into a more meditative state. Find your core, get in touch with your center. Then say these words again:

Like a Butterfly
I want to Change!
Like a Butterfly
Fly out of Range!

Do you feel it now? Are you ready to take action? What do you want to become today? What dreams have you been hiding from the world, or maybe even from yourself? Share your thoughts with me in the comments. I really want to know…

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  • Haniffa

    Thanx for the inspiring post!

    • http://ReflectOnThis.com Christopher J. Moore

      Glad you liked it! And thanks for appreciating it and sharing your thoughts.

  • Azlena

    What a lovely inspiring poem! Kudos to Mr Sellars!

    Have always found the butterfly to be such an inspiration. Beneath it’s gentle and beautifully serene nature, there exists a determination so intense and powerful that brings about a change to its state from a pupae to an elegant butterfly. It reinforces and reiterates that nothing is permanent in life (except God) and that life is always changing, for the better, for those who are aware and make the effort to smell the roses :)

    Thanks for the beautiful in-depth “breaking down” too, Chris!

    • http://ReflectOnThis.com Christopher J. Moore

      What a wonderful and insightful comment! Thanks for sharing..

      The butterfly is truly fascinating. What a dramatic transformation it makes! It quite literally is a totally different being after the change. We have that capacity, too. Let’s start today!

  • Adamu Sule Liman

    What an inspiring post, I always like sharing things like this with friends that don’t have time or reading culture. Can I do so?

    • http://ReflectOnThis.com Christopher J. Moore

      Welcome again Adamu! Thanks for your comment. Yes, please do share the link back to this post as widely and as freely as you like.

  • Yonie Bonawi

    Very deep poem, love it! Very very useful that you help to break it down so others can appreciate it more in depth. Will be sharing on my FB !

    • Chris Moore

      Thanks for commenting Yonie! Please do feel free to share the link to this page.

  • http://www.choicelike.com ChoiceLike

    this is awesome!

    • http://crsmoore.com/ Chris Moore

      Thanks for your comment! Glad you liked it.